Joseph Fiennes is set to star in The Last Race, an unofficial follow-up to multi-award winning Brit epic Chariots of Fire, that takes the story of Scottish runner Eric Liddell through the latter parts of his life. The film, to be directed by Stephen Shin and Michael Parker, will follow Liddell after his win at the 1924 Paris Olympics- so famously scored in Hugh Hudson’s 1981 classic by Greek composer Vangelis- to look at his life in China, where he worked as a missionary and died in 1945 in a Japanese internment camp.
Fiennes is to unveil the project, which will shoot in China, at a ceremony in the eastern city of Tianjin with co-stars Xiao Dou, who will play Liddell’s friend and fellow prisoner Xu Niu. Elizabeth Arends also stars. Alibaba Pictures will release the film in China, subject to it clearing censorship. Religion is a sensitive subject in China, with atheism is promoted in favour of organised religion.
Liddell, portrayed by Ian Charleson in the 1981 film, was actually born in China in 1902 to Christian missionaries. His faith was of profound importance to him. He won gold in the 400m race in the 1924 Olympics but refused to take part in the 100m as it took place on the Sabbath. After returning to China, he was eventually sent to a Japanese internment camp in 1943 following Japan’s invasion of China six years earlier. He would die there of a brain tumour.
Fiennes is the latest Western actor to head to China. Adrien Brody and John Cusack scored a big hit opposite Jackie Chan in Dragon Blade earlier this year. Bruce Willis is starring in Xiao Feng’s Chinese language epic The Bombing, about the resilience of the Chinese residents of Chongqing five years of Japanese attacks during World War 2.
Fiennes is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and The Artists Partnership.
Jim Green and Mark Bacino with Goodland Pictures will be producing along with Stephen Lam and Stephen Shin from Innowave Limited. Executive Producers are Brandon Millan and Yujing Yan. Green and Bacino are repped by Grandview.